Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 

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James 1:19-20

 

 

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The American Heritage Dictionary defines anger as 

“a strong feeling of displeasure or hostility”. 

 

It gives as synonyms words such as

“rage,  fury,  resentment   and  indignation”.  

 

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<span style="<mce: scriptAll these are quite negati
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ve terms, and the Apostle Paul tell us to 
rid ourselves of all such things as these: 

anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.

Colossians 3:8

He also warns that the acts of the sinful nature are obvious:

 

sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 

 idolatry and witchcraft;

hatred, discord, jealousy,

fits of rage, selfish ambition,

dissensions, factions and envy;

drunkenness, orgies, and the like.

I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Galatians 5:19-21 

 

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These are strong words,

and it is little wonder that early Christian theologians

identified anger as one of the

“seven deadly sins”.

 

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But God is described in the scriptures as being angry or acting in an angry manner on several occasions (Examples: Exodus 4:14;  Numbers 11:1,) as is Jesus, the God-Man who “knew no sin”(
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Examples:
Mark 3:5; John 2:13-16).

 

<span style="color: #800000;  How
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can anger be sin and yet ascribed to a perfect God who cannot sin?

 

To answer this question, it is essential that we consider the reason for the anger, the object of the anger and the way in which the anger is expressed.  Jesus gives us the perfect example here.  His anger in Mark 3 was aroused by the “hardness of heart” of the religious leaders who were more interested in trapping and accusing Jesus than in the healing of a handicapped man.  In John 2, the situation involved the prostitution of the House of God by the merchants and moneychangers.  In both cases, Jesus became angry not due to selfish motivation, but due to concern for others, or for the Holy name of His Father.  Anger so motivated becomes a virtue rather than a vice.  Christ gave us an example of how righteous anger should be expressed.  In Luke 9 the disciples wanted to know if they should call down “fire from heaven” on those who had refused to receive Christ.  His response to them should be a lesson to all Christians, for He said

 “for the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them”

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Righteous anger should therefore lead to attempts at redemption,

restoration and reconciliation rather than destruction.

In most cases, however, our anger is not “righteous indignation” but a self-consuming fire that can destroy our souls (as well as our bodies and minds).  In the Hebrew, two words are generally used for anger.  One appears at first rather odd, since it comes from the Hebrew word for “nostril” ;!  The allusion here is to the flaring nostrils of the camel, a beast known for its surly disposition!  The other is a word derived from “burning”.  In the New Testament Greek, the word is orge, describing an intense passion, and from which we get the English word “orgy”.  These are powerful words and indicate a potentially very dangerous emotion.

 

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We are warned about anger several times in the Book of Proverbs. 

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A patient man has great understanding, 


but a quick-tempered man displays folly.

Proverb s14:29

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A gentle answer turns away wrath, 


but a harsh word stirs up anger.

Proverb 15:1

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A hot-tempered man stirs up dissension, 


but a patient man calms a quarrel.

Proverb 15:18

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Better a patient man than a warrior, 


a man who controls his temper than one who takes a city.

Proverb 16:32

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A man’s wisdom gives him patience; 


it is to his glory to overlook an offense.

Proverb 19:11

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A hot-tempered man must pay the penalty; 


if you rescue him, you will have to do it again.

Proverb 19:19

Do not make friends with a hot-tempered man, 


do not associate with one easily angered,

Proverb 22:24

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It is clear that anger is a strong and potentially deadly emotion, and turned inward can lead to depression (See “Depression) and outwardly to alienation from others and lack of success in life.  While the Old Testament refers to anger many more times than does the New Testament, both the Apostle Paul and the Apostle James give us some guidelines in dealing with anger. Paul tells us in

Ephesians 4:26 -27:  

In your anger do not sin Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry,

and do not give the devil a foothold.

 

We can glean from this that it is possible to be angry and yet not to sin (refer back to our discussion of Jesus and anger) but that unrighteous anger may give the devil a foothold in our lives.  Also, the harboring of angry thoughts and feelings may turn even righteous anger into unrighteous.  James tells in us James 1:19-20

Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 

 for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.

 

Very good advice,  for the Bible describes God Himself as “slow to anger” (Exodus 34:6), and we also see the contrast between the “anger of man” and the “righteousness of God”.

 

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So what should we do? 

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We read in the dictionary that anger is a feeling, and feelings are hard to control.  For many (if not most!) of us, controlling anger is an impossible task.  We must look to Jesus to help us calm our anger.  Remember, He calmed a storm on the Sea of Galilee and He can calm the storm in our hearts.  May His words from that occasion speak to us now:    

 

“Peace, be still. and the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.”

Mark 4:39AB 

 

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